Making the decision to enter into the master’s program at Gardner-Webb University generated many questions, as could be expected. My personal decision to embark upon this journey came with 16 years of teaching experience and the desire to develop a greater knowledge in a new facet of education.
Before making the final decision, I considered two major components: balance and flexibility. As an experienced educator, I felt confident that I had enough knowledge and familiarity to do well in the program, but would the extra responsibility be too difficult to juggle? My question was would I professionally and personally be able to balance the additional workload with my existing responsibilities?
To this question, the answer was yes. Before totally committing, I discussed my concerns with my academic advisor, who was richly supportive and encouraging throughout the graduate experience assuring me that this program was created for teachers like me. A teacher’s life is full of uncertainties, even for the most diligent organizer: instructional schedules will abruptly change, the students will resist, or the technology simply will not work; but in all the obstacles we face daily, the ability to balance what is important and flex to the situations becomes a skill that we strengthen with each new year. The graduate programs at Gardner-Webb University ensure success with today’s obstacles in mind.
Personally, I found the master’s of executive leadership studies to be the best fit for my professional career for many reasons: online instruction, knowledgeable professors, reasonable tuition, and flexible schedule. The program I chose was fully online. Choosing online instruction was the only way to ensure that I would be present for my family, consistent in my professional responsibilities, and organized in my efforts to advance.
Online instruction was a new avenue of learning for me, feeling very nervous at first since I don’t consider myself to be the most technologically advanced individual, but the program was organized and extremely user-friendly. Having only participated in face-to-face instruction, I expected the learning platform to be an obstacle, but it was not. The educational platform was organized per class, per assignment, and allowed students the ability to communicate with advisors, professors, group cohorts, peer groups, and access materials and resources in the library all in one click.
The program’s delivery ensured academic success for me. The professors create flexible calendars entailing assignments, projects, and assessments that allow enough time between assignments to work, revise, discuss, and submit your best work. My own uncertainty of a fully online program rapidly shifted to confidence with each semester.
Engaging and Available Professors
Typically, the words “engaging” and “available” are not associated with the idea of online instruction, but Gardner-Webb University has created online programs that are professionally stimulating, strategically planned and organized, and, most importantly, achievable.
The decision to advance my career was accompanied with complete dedication, full commitment, and the understanding of the importance of communication with my professors, advisors, and peer groups. As a full-time teacher, wife, and mother of four children, I graduated Gardner-Webb University’s graduate program as a member of Kappa Delta Pi, with a 4.0 GPA in Executive Leadership Studies, and in the allocated time frame.
This opportunity to grow professionally with the most knowledgeable and elite group of professors and advisors created life-long relationships that continually support my professional endeavors.
Assembling in cohorts prove to be essential in the success of any graduate program. Since it is rare that participants would know one another, the professor selects small groups, provides contact information, and the group makes arrangements together to meet based on individual schedules. The experience is vital to understanding content; eliminating areas of confusion; completing projects, assignments, and assessments; and simply making a connection with others who are facing the same types of challenges. The cohort members become friends and participants become emotionally invested in each other’s success.
Manageable Class Schedule
In the master’s of executive leadership studies program, the courses are prescheduled per semester to eliminate any confusion for the student. As the student begins courses and progresses through the program, it is easy to appreciate the course selection and how that initial course begins the foundation of knowledge specific for the program. With each additional course, the building process continues until all areas are introduced, examined, analyzed, practiced, and successfully accomplished.
Graduate Student Expectations
Anyone entertaining the idea of entering a graduate program should look no further than Gardner-Webb University. I entered the master’s of executive leadership studies program as a full time teacher of 16 years, actively involved as a professional and student mentor, and a member of various professional and personal committees. At the end of my journey, I gained even more than I anticipated: I realized that I am more knowledgeable than I recognized, I am more confident than I ever imagined, I am self-paced, well managed, and organized in my tasks, and I know that I can compete with some of the greatest academic minds across the country all because of Gardner-Webb University. There is no greater feeling than to graduate from Gardner-Webb University’s Graduate program, with a 4.0 GPA and member of Kappa Delta Pi, while your four impressionable children watch and smile.
Are you an educator looking to pursue an advanced degree? With programs designed with the working teacher in mind, you needn’t look further than Gardner-Webb University. Explore our available programs here and get started today!
Heather Walker White
High School English Teacher;
M.A. in Executive Leadership Studies from Gardner-Webb University, SC